Silk road

Today we had a co-op at the Nature and Science museum about the Silk road. The schools in the area must have been trying to use up field trip money, because there were a lot of kids there. Before we started the tour there was a surprise for Grace. I had known for over a week that one of her best friends was coming into town, but I kept quiet. At the museum I told Grace to turn around and there he was! She was so shocked that she couldn’t say anything to him and then she started crying. Hunter has grown since he left for WV….grown a lot!

We gathered the kids and went up to the exhibit.

We found out about the silk industry in China and how all along the silk road the merchants would trade pieces of silk for other things they needed. They had a glass case with real silkworms in it, which I thought was very cool until I remembered that as a kid I had a whole tree full of worms in the neighbors mulberry tree (that we could never get mulberries off of because of all the stupid worms.) They didn’t seem as cool after that. I couldn’t take a picture of them, so here is one from the Internet.


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The good news is that silk worms can’t live in Denver, so we can pick all the mulberries we want without fear of eating a worm. Of course, after the girls saw how you get the silk off of the cocoon they wanted to get some worms.

That part is pretty cool (except for the killing of the worm part.) We traveled along the exhibit and became merchants trading things we had for things we wanted or sharing information about politics or religion. There was an interactive map of the route where you could look up deserts, the spread of religion, what was traded and more. Here is what the route on land and sea looked like.


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We got to see an astrolabe in action, see a ship carrying treasures and see some artifacts like: books, papers, glass, mirrors, vases and more. The end of the exhibit talked about Constantinople and there were some items from this museum about Roman times.

We learned a lot about the Silk road, what was traded and how silk was made, it was a pretty cool exhibit. Here is a site that has more info about the Silk road and some interesting numbers about the lag time in centuries of different technological achievements.

After that we went to RAFT and I got more time to look at the books on sale. The kids made some cards to put in the homeless bags on Monday and some of them bought white elephant gifts for youth group. Bethany found a book on how to be immature, Hunter found an owl pellet to dissect and a stamp and Andrew found a whole bag of crap that he called ‘homeschooler in a bag.’ There was a demo going on in the green room, so we also got to see a Rube-Goldberg machine in action.

Bethany had youth group and traded her gift in for lipstick (and someone wrapped bricks as their gift, silly kids.) We went to the mall and had dinner and then looked around before picking up Bethany. It was so good to see Hunter, we can’t wait for Friday when we get to see the rest of the gang.

It’s a wonderful life co-op

Today after school we went to a friend’s house for a Christmas co-op. We had stringing of popcorn and cranberries, a little felt bird to sew, hot cocoa and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ playing in color and black and white in two rooms (because everyone couldn’t fit in one room.) The girls were working on popcorn and cranberry strings while the boys watched the movie in the school room.

Hot cocoa was made and we moved from room to room, watching the movie, making crafts, it was fun.

Recycling t-shirts

My co-op today was turning t-shirts into scarves, bags and more.

Everyone brought at least two shirts so they could make a scarf/scarves and bag. Then we used the excess shirts to make kerchiefs, headbands, belts, ponchos and bag straps. The first item was to make a scarf.

You can cut the t-shirt under the arms straight across, then cut that in half for 2 smaller width scarves, or cut it into a large circle scarf with or without fringe. We found that some t-shirts were easier to fringe than others, but it your fringe is not tearing right just go back and cut it to the length you want and then run your fingers on each piece and pull them down.

Bethany had picked out a woman’s shirt that was ruffled and it made a great circle scarf (it must be a present for me because I like green.)

Grace made two scarves, one for her dance teacher and one for a friend.

The bag was just as easy and had two ways to make it. You cut off the sleeves and cut off the hem of the neck and bottom of shirt. Then cut fringe on the bottom and tie each piece front and back together to tie up the bottom of the bag. Or, you could scrunch the end of the shirt and tightly wrap a piece of shirt that you cut from the hem around the gathered shirt to make the bottom. I wish I had gotten more pics, C had a cute little bag from a woman’s fall colored paisley shirt. There were pink bags, blue bags, red bags and more.

These bags hold up well, we stuffed library books in them and they just stretched a bit. We have a few more shirts that are going to become bags, just because we always need bags. Here is a visual tutorial.

On the way home we stopped to see the horses in the pasture behind Target. Since this is called a ranch, they put horses in the pastures and rotate them around.

It’s been a while since they were put in the pasture nearest to us, so we stopped to say hi.

For the rest of the week: a Christmas co-op, park day, lunch with Dad, a hike and the Grinch movie at Solid grounds. I found a free Handel’s Messiah performance this Sunday, so we’ll be heading to the Springs for that, it should be very nice.

Mini-puppet theaters

That was my co-op this morning. Everyone brought a cereal box per child and we cut them, flipped them inside out, taped them back together and cut two squares in the front/back.

Then the kids decorated the front of the theaters and made popsicle puppets.

Some people made their puppets into popsicles, some people made their boxes into dioramas, some people made their boxes into monster faces.

The kids worked for an hour making puppets and then all moaned when I said they had 30 minutes left. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had said they had 2 hours left, they still would have moaned. I wish we could stay there all day making puppets, but other people were coming into the library. We didn’t have time to show off the theaters and puppets there, but some of us are going to tape a show the kids made at home and post it on the HS board. Hannah and Grace loved making the theaters because they are going to use them with their finger puppets and LPS figurines.

We went to lunch with some friends and introduced them to Pho. It was funny because one of her kids only wanted the noodles and the other only wanted the meat out of the soup. Also, they both got bobas, but they didn’t like those. Hannah was eyeing the rest of the boba and soup, but I told her no.

We got home and finished cleaning up. I made chicken marsala for dinner and roasted some cauliflower, then I spied some extra lemons and made some lemon bread for dessert. Janice came over and we talked and had dinner, the kids all got to talk to her and then the adults took off for Solid Grounds. I had made a TNO for tonight before I knew that Janice was coming over, so we just invited her to come too. We had some coffee at the shop and talked some more and talked with some new HS’ers and then said our goodbyes. She has to leave tomorrow (she usually isn’t here long when it’s for work), but we had a nice visit.

Tuesday

Triangle proofs are going to kill me. You’ll find me on the floor with ASA, SSA, AAA and ‘given’, ‘definition of bisector’ and more proof reasons strangling me. I love math, I treat Geometry like a rabid dog, I poke it with a stick and then run. But, here we go again, deep breath, I only have to teach this 2 more times in the future. See, not all homeschool Moms love every subject they teach and I try really, really hard to not impart that to my kids and to let them know that there is a reason for these things we do (even if I really can’t find one.) So, we tramp on through the muck of proofs (why are they congruent, because ISS – I Said So!)

After lunch we headed down to the Botanic gardens so Bethany could go to the Chihuly exhibit with some teen friends. Grace, Hannah and I went to the park and hung out. Grace climbed a tree to read her book and Hannah put out her hat and started drumming. Unfortunately the only occupants of the park at that time were homeless people, so Hannah didn’t make any money. I told her so, but she insisted on trying anyway. We picked up Bethany and drove home, I made dinner and we spent the night in. Tomorrow I have to take Maisy to the vet to get a shot update so she can stay with the lady who is taking care of her when we go on vacation. Maisy is going to be so confused when we drop her at that house. She won’t remember her visit there and she has to learn how to use a dog door to get in and out of the house….we’ll see how that goes.

Whales spotted in Denver

We have had whales in Denver, this area used to be an ocean, but the whales we saw today were in the museum. When I saw that a whale exhibit was coming to Denver, you know I made sure that it would turn into a co-op so that we could see it with our homeschool group.

Grace has been counting down the days to this exhibit since co-ops started.

I’m so glad we got to go to CA before this and see real whales.

The exhibit was a mix of skeletons, some hands-on stations like diving with a sperm whale, the sound booth where you could hear whale sounds, make a dolphin booth where you could fine tune your dolphin to ride the waves better, movies about whale riders (Maori people), pictures of whales and more. There was a giant blue whale heart you could climb through, it’s big. We were happy to see some Vaquita models, but in the stranding and extinction part of the exhibit they didn’t mention the over-fishing and net traps that have the Vaquita down to 98 porpoises.

They had a section of the exhibit about the Maori people of New Zealand and their affection for the whales that they used for food and for tool making. You can learn more about the Maori people here.

They had wonderful artifacts like:
A tabua (carved whale tooth),

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waseisei (whale tooth necklace),

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hoeroa (bone staff)

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and more.

The docents they had there had very little knowledge of whales, the museum should have placed Grace in there instead. After talking to one of the docents, my friend had questions about what he said. No he didn’t pronounce Narwhal correctly, no those bones at the end of the whales are not support for ‘flippers’ (Grace told her that it is the vestigial ‘foot’ of the whale.) He didn’t have a clue. Where did the oil from the Sperm whale come from? The spermaceti in the melon. I could go on, I know they are just volunteers, but really, read the handouts. In the stranding section we saw a euthanasia device used on Sperm whales, that was a little sad, but those whales are so huge that when they strand they are too heavy to move and most likely have internal damage to their organs which collapse when they don’t have water to buoy them. The larger sperm whale (male) skeleton was one of the many stranded Sperm whales in Auckland. The whale was given to the Chief as a gift and was named Tu Hononga. There was also a picture of a Sperm whale grave (59 of them) in Poverty bay on Okitu beach. There was a small section about ambergris, that’s like….whale vomit, but it doesn’t come out of their mouth…now every time we go to a beach I’m going to need to bring a match and a needle so we can test every piece of brown rock that looks like ambergris (cool fact, it was used as a spice in the Middle East and was used in perfumes.) Even though Grace learned nothing new about whales, it was a great exhibit.

We wandered around the museum and got to see the new Discovery area, it’s really meant for little kids, but that doesn’t mean that older kids can’t have some fun there too. We went home with 2 extra kids, then traded those 2 for 2 more that were spending the night at our house. It was a crazy evening.

Sugar skulls

The girls had been looking forward to this co-op, every year I hear, ‘Can we make a sugar skull?’ So, when there was a co-op for sugar skulls, I signed them up. We headed to CHAC in the arts district and got to look around at all of the Day of the Dead art before the class. This cow skull is painted with henna, which made it not only pretty, but also smell like lavender.

There were skull paintings, sculptures and altars in the building.

Don’t blink.

We heard a bit about Day of the Dead and then started painting the skulls.

What Day of the Dead is not:

Mexican Halloween. Indigenous people have celebrated the Day of the Dead since 1800 B.C.

It is not:

Morbid. There are no images of dead people, ghosts, witches or the devil.

It is not:

A cult. It is a Catholic ritual intermixed with folk culture. Going to Mass is an essential aspect of this celebration.

It is not:

Ancestor worship. Altars or ofrendas are not for worshiping, but for offering love and remembering departed family members. Kind of like leaving flowers on a grave when you visit.

It is not:

Sad. It’s a day of happiness to remember loved ones. But people assume an introspective attitude in the cemetery. Kind of like having a memorial service to remember the life of a loved one and the happy times.

It is not:

Glorification of death. The holiday honors dead relatives, not death itself. Celebrants use the opportunity to reflect upon their lives, heritage and the cycle of life and death.

After the co-op we went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2, that was a good movie. I think it’s as good as the first one. It was sad at parts, but the story and animation were great, I hope they make a third one.

Terrific Tuesday

This morning we had a lecture on Shakespeare, it was my co-op, brought to us by Active minds. We really freaked out the old people though. See, Active minds usually has talks in retirement homes, sometimes libraries, book stores and a few churches. And, Active minds is aimed at getting old people to be active in their minds by attending lectures on all kinds of things – but nowhere does it say that kids can’t come to these lectures. So, when I see a lecture that I think will fit in with school, we go. I happened to set this one up as a co-op because I thought others would appreciate the topic. We had 13 in our group, 3 adults and 10 kids. We outnumbered the old people attending, maybe that’s why they wondered why we were there. After the lecture we got many ‘your children were so good!’ speeches, because they were – which, I guess, is hard for people to realize (that some kids CAN listen to a lecture.) One lady asked why the kids weren’t in school, I told her we were homeschoolers and this was part of school. She was confused, why were we there? To learn about Shakespeare….I thought that was why everyone had come. Another lady whispered that she had never seen children at any of the Active minds lectures…never, and she had been to numerous lectures. Don’t worry old people, we aren’t invading your lectures, most of them have no interest for us, but the ones that do….watch out – we’ll come and listen…and takes notes….and ask questions! Anyway, we found out some cool stuff about the Bard like: He wrote 154 sonnets, 2 narrative poems and 37 plays. The increase of GDP by 400% in England caused a middle class who had enough money to make ends meet and afford entertainment. Before that, royals and the wealthy were the only ones who could enjoy a good show. The masses demanded new stuff all the time, no one wanted to go to the theater and see the same play! Standing room admission was a penny and you could get as close to the actors as you wanted…which led to people hurling insults and vegetables at the actors (which begs the bigger question, who brings tomatoes to a play?) Shakespeare’s fame grew in the 1700′s, but in the 1800′s it really took off and people began using Shakespeare to inspire their own plays and poems, but don’t worry about plagiarism, after all Will himself found inspiration in everything from Plutarch, to Roman dramas to History books of England to the Bible and more. And finally, Shakespeare introduced over 3,000 words and phrases into the English language such as: lackluster, in a pickle, it’s a foregone conclusion, it’s all Greek to me, vanished into thin air, don’t stand on ceremony, green-eyed jealousy and too much of a good thing.

We had lunch at a park near the church and then headed up to Boulder. I took 93 even though I knew they had a section of road closed, just look at that view.

A few families were meeting at Celestial for the tour, then heading to the farm. We went on the tea tour again, maybe it’s the free tea, maybe it’s the hairnets…who knows why we’ve been on the tour so many times.

We survived the mint room again and the factory floor was in full swing making boxes of tea. We got to smell the botanicals and grasses as we went to the mint room – lavender, lemon grass, alfalfa, chamomile and more. Did you know that Celestial makes one tea that has catnip in it? True story, it’s Tension tamer. Hannah thinks she’s sooo funny.

After the tour we headed to Cottonwood farms to play and pick pumpkins. If you go to Boulder, visit this farm (it’s at Arapahoe and 75th.) They don’t charge admission for their hay maze or their corn maze.

They don’t charge for petting the animals or taking pictures on the farm.

So, since you saved that money, buy some of their squashes, gourds and pumpkins and their honey and support this family farm.

The kids ran through the hay maze, I’m pretty sure that’s called cheating when you can see over the bales.

Annie was the only one who got lost in there. The corn maze was a different story, I gave up and traced my way back to the entrance.

Hannah finally came out after a while and Grace and Bella kept running back in.

We pet the donkey and goats and saw the chickens and miniature horse. Queen of the Gourds.

I wish that it had been a cooler day, that would have made the trip better. But, the kids had fun playing around and picking out a pumpkin. Annie hauled this pumpkin into the wagon all by herself.

We said bye to our friends and headed home to beat traffic (nice try, but no.)

We had time to eat dinner before leaving for drum circle. We sat outside and it wasn’t bad at first, but by 7:30 my fingers were frozen. Bob said that next month we’ll be in the tent with the heater, which is good because drums don’t sound the same when you play with gloves.

And in keeping with our devotional this week, a song about who you are in Jesus.

Collage Matisse style

I did a Matisse co-op not too long ago, but we were painting in his style for that one. Today we were making cut-out collages in his style.

When Henri Emile Benoit Matisse was young he dreamed of being a lawyer. While in law school he fell ill and while recuperating his mother brought him paints to bide his time. He fell in love with painting and became a great avant-garde artist. Later in life he fell ill again and was confined to his bed and then a wheelchair. He couldn’t paint anymore, so he found a new way to get the images out of his head and into the real world – scissors.

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He cut large pieces of paper and had assistants glue them onto even larger sheets of paper that they had colored under his direction.

We read this book, a simple book that tells of his life from boyhood to his death.

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It shows him in bed cutting out a huge leaf, that is one thing the books can’t convey – how big these works were. One picture that we looked at was 10X12 in real life, the flowers in the picture have to be as big as your hand.

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So, we were making smaller pictures. I had stencils in the shape of some of his famous cut-outs, a child, a man, a woman, an angel and more.

Some kids used the stencils, some didn’t.

Some used the negatives of their cut-outs, some didn’t.

I put some piano jazz on and the kids were quiet for over an hour cutting, pasting, assembling and coming up with some amazing art.

Some of the pictures started out as one thing and morphed into a story.

Suddenly the men were no longer dancing under a plane, now they were parachuting from an aircraft hit by lightning.

Guess who did this one? Grace said it was easier to cut out the shapes rather than paint them (except for the tiny fish, but if we were doing this Matisse style for real, then the fish would have been as big as my hand.)

Matisse would be proud.

Bows and lake

We met at Bear creek park to shoot bows and arrows.

I think Grace needs a different bow.

After shooting for awhile we headed over to the lake to swim. A friend was in from CA so we got to catch up with her. The lake was full of algae, which is surprising since Chatfield is so clear right now.

I went in for a dip to cool off and when we got home our swim suits were full of green algae, yuck, we smelled like a science experiment. Clear creek might be colder, but at least it’s not full of algae.